Since the world -as we know it- came tumbling down in early 2020, and things took a darker turn, organizations everywhere have had a bit of a wake-up call. For the most part, they’ve had this realization that being successful in the digital age requires them to be truly agile in software development, delivery, strategy and operations!
What's in here?
A quick look at the 15th State of Agile Report (+ the report before that) and the changes in Agile adoption since COVID-19 made its debut. You'll find some nice graphs in here to explain.
What is Agile project management?
In order to respond to increasing demands from the contemporary consumer, companies are having to bring new products to market faster, with frequent updates. Now, there’s a reason why big companies like Atlassian, Spotify and Uber are able to update their products often; and that is Agile Project Management.
To put it simply, if you do this:
- focus on delivering value for customers
- work in smaller teams (in short cycles)
- avoid top-down silos
… then you’re pretty much implementing the substance of Agile. For more on what Agile consists of, check out this article.
Since when are organizations practicing agile methods?
32% of organizations have been practicing agile methods for at least 5 years, and it makes sense that it went up from the year before; adoption has been happening for a few years now.
I'm curious what the <1 year value will be next year, in the 16th State of Agile Report; post-covid data that's a bit more long term.
If you’re not sure what Agile methodologies are, or if you're curious to learn more about some of the most used Agile methodologies today, here’s a good link!
The 14th State of Agile Report
We took a look at Agile adoption in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic (pre and post), and whether it actually gave an advantage to organizations in terms of adapting better to this new world.
Increased speed to market thanks to Agile
The 14th annual State of Agile survey was conducted from August to December of 2019; the numbers had shown that 60% of respondents were able to increase their speed to market thanks to agile ways; the benefits of Agile were already clear.
Agile adoption went up in the first 3 months of the pandemic
In a follow-up survey mid-May 2020 (alongside other findings), Digital.ai showed that 55% of respondents’ companies were planning on increasing the use of Agile in the coming year. Also, 43% of organizations stated that their momentum for Agile adoption had increased in the last 3 months (since the beginning of the pandemic); 15% of them said the increase was very significant.
Between March and May of 2020, Agile adoption went up by 33% to help manage teams in response to the COVID-19 conundrum; and that was but the beginning.
When Agile went mainstream
2021 saw a dramatic increase in the move towards remote work, with an understanding that it won’t be temporary. According to the 15th State of Agile Report, 89% of teams are geographically distributed (today, it’s probably even more), which means that remote work isn’t just a temporary trend related to COVID-19.
Also, only 3% of respondents stated that they’d be back to the office full time.
With a global force increasingly distributed across the globe, 2021 saw a significant upward slope in Agile adoption across various functions. Which makes sense, given organizations feel an increasing need to accelerate their adoption of processes, practices and tech in order to respond to the pandemic; otherwise they could be out. Nothing brings about sudden change like survival does! 🏝️
Growth in Agile adoption within software development teams, for example, went from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021; that's immense! Non-IT businesses also increased in adoption, doubling from 2020 to 2021.
As for what % of teams use Agile within the same company, you won't see much of a difference between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The "none of our teams use Agile" percentage has decreased by 3% - and there's a couple of percentage points here and there but I'd be curious to see how things change in the next issue of the report.
What are the reasons for adopting Agile?
The reasons organizations adopt Agile haven't changed. Managing changing priorities, faster software delivery, and team productivity are still at the top of the list.
Does Agile work?
Whether we're talking about team productivity, software quality or overall visibility, does adopting Agile actually work? Do companies feel that they're solving whatever issues they were looking to solve by becoming agile? Well... some more than others, but for the most part, yes.
What are key challenges organizations face when adopting Agile?
The key challenges organizations face today when adopting Agile are pretty much the same as they were years ago; organizational culture and resistance to change, as well as the lack of support and skills.
What Agile methods and practices do companies use?
Scrum continues to be the most common Agile methodology used, but its usage went up by 9% in one year; as for ScrumBan and hybrid methodologies, usage went down. The joke is on the 2% "I don't know" people though! 😆
What are the top Agile techniques used?
The top six Agile techniques used by teams in 2020-2021 are the same as the ones from the year before, with a few YoY changes.
- Daily Standups went from 85% to 87%
- Retrospectives - 81% to 83%
- Sprint/iteration planning - 79% to 83%
- Sprint/Iteration review - 77% to 81%
- Shorter iterations - 64% to 63%
- Kanban - 63% to 61%
Activities related to daily standups and retrospectives have always been fundamental to the agile approach, so are sprint planning and reviews.
Planning and delivery Agile tools
When it comes to planning and delivery, Kanban boards have come a long way. They're used quite extensively for managing workflow and visualization, and have gone from a measly 6% use in survey #1 to 61% in survey #15.
What are the top benefits of adopting Agile?
The top 5 benefits of adopting Agile haven’t really changed between 2019 and 2021; they’re still built around speed and adaptability.
The reasons organizations adopt Agile and the benefits they get from it haven't changed since the pandemic. What has changed is the pace at which adoption happens because time is of the essence here.
Humans tend to behave based on expectations, and with a seemingly tiny window of time before a new variant or some other disruption comes along, organizations feel the need to act fast. And even as they ease COVID-19 measures around the globe, I highly doubt things will ever go back to how they were.
It seems like a natural progression, that organizations would continue shifting to working remotely. After all, they got a taste of it; it’s cheaper, safer, and at some level more efficient (maybe, who knows for now).
At some point in the near future, organizations should reach a balancing point between remote and in-person work, with new patterns of scale and amazing flexibility to move resources around, in response to all kinds of change. 🙃
Agile will inevitably be part of this transformation.